Saturday, May 02, 2015

May Day in Oxford

The Socialist Party leafletted the starting point of the traditional trade union march at Manzil Way between 11.30 and 1pm and had a literature stall at the end in Bonn Square in the centre of Oxford from 1.30 to 3pm. Also there were the usual suspects: SWP, TUSC, CPB (Morning Star), CPGB (Weekly Worker), Socialist Resistence, RS21 (SWP fragment), Workers Fight, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist Leninist), International Bolshevik Tendency.

The Green Party candidate in Oxford East put in an appearance and one of their councillors, in his trade union capacity, was among the speakers. Their candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon, out shopping, stopped at our stall to say hello before catching his bus. Today's Independent  has an article on his brother, a US Senator, entitled "The socialist who could cause a real stir". He is the only Senator to call himself a "socialist" though he's seeking the Democratic Party nomination to stand for President in 2016.

We took the opportunity to ask who they said workers should vote for on 7 May.

The CPB were distributing a leaflet headed "Despite Its Flaws Labour Remains The Best Choice" but with the proviso that this does not mean giving "the Labour Party leadership a blank cheque" and "Still less does it mean voting Labour in every constituency across Britain". "The best vote in some constituencies may well be Communist, socialist or Green. But in most it has to be Labour". After all, they are putting up a dozen of their own candidates (in safe Labour seats).

The CPGB is committed to supprting TUSC as their third preference and us as their fourth (after selected leftwing Labour candidates and Left Unity as their first and second preferences). Logically this means that in Oxford West & Abingdon they should be urging a vote for us, but we didn't press the matter as we are not in the game of vote cadging. Anyway, their lit seller lived in Oxford East. He criticised us for standing against Jeremy Corbyn in Islington.

The SWP support TUSC in Oxford East though they haven't done much to work for the TUSC candidate there, a member of SPEW. They did have a few of his leaflets on their stall and will presumably vote for him. In Oxford West & Abingdon one of them indicated they might vote for us (on the grounds of voting for whatever "left" candidate is standing if there's only one).

Socialist Resistence seemed to be split, with some saying they were going to vote Labour and others voting Green.

The RS21 member we met said he was voting Green (not TUSC)

The oddest was the RCP(M-L) which was calling for a vote for the National Health Action Party in Oxford West & Abingdon. As this seemed incredible for a Maoist sect I checked on the internet and the endorsement can be found here.

Never got round to asking the International Bolshevik Tendency. Their leaflet was in American, about "labor action", while the one from Workers Fight was in Fringlish.

The Oxford Communist Corresponding Society were distributing leaflets urging workers to vote for us on the grounds that we like them advocate "the abolition of capitalism, money and the state, and the creation of a free, classless, socialist society". They carried placards with a picture of Karl Marx, which contrasted with those sponsored by the SWP which proclaimed "Tax the Rich", i.e leave them (and so capitalist class-divided society) in existence but tax them. As Marx might have put it:  "Instead of the reformist slogan 'Tax the Rich' the workers ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword 'Abolish the Rich'".

Meanwhile our Brighton Pavilion candidate has been busy answering individual queries on Socialist Party policy.

Dear Howard Pilott,
As I consider who to cast my vote for on May 7th, one of the issues that is important to me is International Development. I am a supporter of Concern Worldwide, a development organisation that works in 27 of the poorest countries in the world.
They have produced a commitment card that calls on the next UK Parliament to:
1. Protect the UK's commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on aid
2. Focus UK aid on the poorest and most vulnerable
3. Tackle hunger, because in a world of plenty no one should go hungry
4. Fund programmes that help communities build their resilience to disasters
5. Tackle inequality which keeps people poor, vulnerable and powerless
Find out more about Concern's campaign here: https://www.concern.net/en/2015-general-election Will you commit to these core principles so that we can assist the world's poorest to climb out of poverty?
Thanks,
Vicki

Howard Pilott wrote:
Hello Vicki, Thanks for your email.  I wish it were as easy as making commitments to action; that in some sense making these offers would in the longer term be worthwhile.  I am afraid I do not hold this view. Hunger, inequality and vulnerability are built into this system of haves and have-nots: our current system works on the basis of the wealthy [individuals and corporations] being able to do as they wish in pursuit of profit, and the rest of us are resources to be used and abused as fits their ends.

Simple recent facts and figures: life expectancy in poor Blackpool is 8 years less than in wealthy Kensington and Chelsea; since the recession the richest 1% in UK have seen their aggregate wealth rise by an average of £77m per day.  What would it matter if our aid budget was 10% of GDP is we ruined other countries by means of WTO and GATT regulations; had them hamstrung in using GM crops; had forced them to privatise their industries so our corporations could step in and ransack their economy? Added to which the rapacious nature of capitalism means the planet is merely another resource to be used and abused leading to more poor countries being the brunt of climate change.

No, unless we dismantle this egregious system so that power is distributed amongst us equally, unless we take away the wealthy's ability to determine our futures; unless we show we have had enough of this exploitation, things will carry on in this disastrous manner.  The Socialist Party advocates popular democracy: we want YOU [not us] to be in charge. Voting for us is a statement that you have had enough of being treated like a serf: that you want your share of power and of the wealth of the world. We believe Socialism can offer a better future for us, our children, and the planet. Vote for us and/or better still get involved: visit our website for 3 free issues of our magazine
Kind regards,
Howard Pilott
Prospective Party Candidate The Socialist Party of Great Britain

My name is Leslie, and I want to see an end to the housing crisis. The housing crisis affects so many of us, whether we're stuck renting in terrible conditions, struggling to pay our rent or mortgage every month, or worrying that our children will never be able to afford their own homes. *I am writing to ask you: please support Shelter's call to end the housing
crisis.*

There just aren't enough affordable places to live any more in Brighton, Pavilion. For decades, governments have failed to build the homes we need. In fact, we are now building just half as many as we need every year.

This is having terrible consequences for people across the country – sky-high rents and house prices mean so many of us don't have a safe, affordable place to call home. Ultimately, the lack of affordable homes leads to more people becoming homeless. In fact, there are now 885 homeless households with children in Brighton and Hove. *It is possible to end the housing crisis – by building more affordable homes.*Shelter have outlined the mix of affordable homes we need to build and set out a comprehensive plan for how to do so, at thehomesweneed.org.uk .

As a prospective parliamentary candidate in Brighton, Pavilion, you are in a unique position to influence your party's priorities. *Will you ask your party leader to prioritise the housing crisis and make sure the next government builds more affordable homes?*

Please reply to my email and let me know what you plan to do about housing – this issue is very important to me, and to many others in Brighton, Pavilion.
Yours sincerely,
VOTE SOCIALIST PARTY (GB)

Leslie Bunker


Howard replied :
Dear Leslie,

Housing and the property market is a superb illustration of so many things that are wrong with capitalism: this area of the economy is one of the most market driven and as a consequence one of the most divisive and dysfunctional. From the ‘buy your own council house’ bribery scandal of the 80s to the rise of the buy-to-let schemes, housing has been a series of awful messes. However the property market has to keep rising because politicians believe it is key to the feel-good factor.  What this does is embed a system of haves and have-nots.

Trying to reform this system is like trying to reform a leech: it thrives on sucking your blood.  Some rent controls here, some health and safety there, a few more affordable buildings…like applying a sticking plaster on a cancer.  Only the destruction of this rapacious system will yield a
solution.  No-one should be able to own a portfolio of properties and thereby control the lives of others, while the rents from these latter often pay the mortgages on the rented properties.  The other side of the coin is that there are one million empty properties in this country.

If we had a true democracy where people decided local and national issues, we could simply take these empty properties and use them.  We could arrange to build where we needed them.  We could use all the second homes that the better off have at their disposal and mostly leave empty. A socialist society offers this scope.  To see what else we stand for have a look at our website
– you can get 3 copies of our magazine free [no obligation!] and hopefully it may encourage you to ask some questions about how this current system works. You might even consider voting for me.

Best wishes,
Howard Pilott
Prospective Party Candidate

The Socialist Party of Great Britain

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